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barni Sep 11th, 2004 06:46 PM

Switzerland Mid October. First timers have 4 days
Hi everyone. I need some experienced advice. My husband and I are hoping to travel to Switzerland in mid October for about four day. We were thinking of using a hire car and entering through Geneve and travelling through Switzerland for the four days and leaving into northern Italy to head over towards Venice. After reading posts I have numerous concerns.

1. So much to see so little time. What are the 'must sees'? Scenery of the Alps, smaller towns, cities not as important.
2. Have concerns about this time of year. Is it worth going or should we leave this for another trip and concentrate on northern Italy?

3. Driving? Are we kidding ourselves with limited alpine experience or should we look at train travel?
We love doing our own thing and driving has that freedom but now not sure.

We are not 'skiers' so are glad to sight see then move on. Would like to see Alp region (perhaps Matterhorn) and the Bernina Pass sounds wonderful. I was thinking this may be the way to get into Italy.

Thanks barni

LindaW Sep 11th, 2004 10:02 PM

You can see the Matterhorn from Zermott, which is an interesting town because it does not allow cars. A favorite place of mine is Interlaken and you can take a special train up to the Jungfrau, which has beautiful scenery. Also, the Bucherer clock/watch store is a great place to get Swiss watches, cuckoo clocks, etc.

suze Sep 11th, 2004 10:08 PM

A couple thoughts (having just returned from Switzerland myself)... The train system there is truly amazing. I wanted to share how efficient, timely, clean, comfortable and wonderful trains in Switzerland are! Seems like it would be harder to appreciate the scenery when you are driving a car.

I like to stay in places longer, so for me I would concentrate on northern Italy and add the extra 4 days... saving Switzerland for another time (and plan to go in the spring or summer). But that's a very personal comment, hopefully others will chime in with their ideas.

swandav2000 Sep 12th, 2004 04:11 AM

Hi barni,

I can see two ways to do this: either through Visp with a side-trip to Zermatt, or through St Moritz to get you to the Bernina Express.

The train from Geneva to Venice is pretty easy, 6h52 with 0 changes. But because it goes through Visp, it would be convenient to catch a connection to Zermatt from there. You should spend the entire four days in Zermatt, enjoying the scenery, visiting small neighboring towns, and maybe taking a walk through some alpine pastures, etc. The onward journey from Visp to Venice goes through Stressa, Milan, etc.

The second choice to get you to the Bernina Express is quite a bit longer. The train trip from Geneva to St Moritz takes 7h07 or 7h11 (most go by Zurich, btw, so you may want to just fly into Zurich if you choose this option) with two or three changes. Again, I recommend you stay in St Moritz the entire four days, visiting the local towns like Zuoz, Silvaplana, or maybe even as far north as Guarda or Scuol, and also taking a few alpine walks, maybe from Pontresina. Then when you leave, you can take the Bernina Express to Poschiavo and on to Tirano, etc.

I think Switzerland will be lovely in October, but then I think Switzerland is lovely ANY time! I even love Switzerland in November and March, statistically dreary times.

As you see, I used the train system to check your travel plans. Even though the train is a different way for many folks to travel, it has many advantages. I've only rented a car in Switzerland twice, and I regretted it both times. Since this is your first time in Switzerland, your route will most probably go exactly along the train routes -- to the major towns. You can get into the villages as day trips from your home base. The only reason to keep a car, imho, is if you're staying in a tiny village with few or bad train/bus connections or if you're staying in a small b&b that's far removed from the center of town. The train option is particularly appropriate if you choose to go to Zermatt, where, of course, cars aren't allowed, and you'll park your rental for the four days you're there.

Let me know if I can help further.


swandav2000 Sep 12th, 2004 04:39 AM

Hi Again,

I stand corrected!! I found a way you can do both Zermatt & Bernina Express.

You can catch a train directly from the Geneva airport to Visp, a journey of about 2h30. From Visp, you can get to Zermatt easily and stay there two days.

Then the onward journey from Zermatt to St Moritz is another direct (0 change) train, but it is quite long, more than 8 hours. This is the Glacier Express, about which I've read differing reviews. That's a loooong time to be on a train, especially since you'll only be in St. Moritz for two days or so before you go on to Tirano & Italy.

You can check the train trips at

Let me know if I can help further.


barni Sep 12th, 2004 04:50 AM

Thanks for the advice. I'll do some research and reply with a decision..hopefully!

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